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What's In A Name?

"What name do you give your child?" This is the first question the minister asks the parents of a child to be baptized.

The name given by the parents is not one thought of at the spur of the moment but was decided upon after several options were considered beforehand. A name is chosen to honor, for example, a parent, grandparent or another loved one. The Church also suggests names of saints, who are models of a virtuous life. Some names are chosen for the precise meaning they convey.

All persons have names. Even pets have names. Everywhere one looks one can see names attached to things: streets, buildings, airports, stores, products, cars, etc. From the start of creation, God gave Adam the task of naming each animal or plant He created for him.

In fairly recent times, the act of giving names has been improperly appropriated unto themselves by some. People now engage in name-calling, or categorize other people derogatorily, for example: "homophobe," "racist," "Nazi," "hater," "bigot," "stupid," "liar," etc.

Name-calling is associated with something that denigrates the dignity of the individual human person, not something that acknowledges it, or highlights it, but on the contrary, destroys it.

The Incarnate Word, the Son of God, has a name: Christ, which means the Anointed One, the Messiah Whose coming was awaited by the world for many centuries.

At our Baptism, we each came out of the waters as an adopted child of God, a member of the Body of Christ, an heir with Christ of heaven.

But we are still sinners, and it is easy to forget who we really are. Often we do not act or live like adopted children of God. It is also easier to forget who our fellow human beings are. It is easier to give, in malice, other human beings names that do not correspond to who they really are: children of God, beloved by Him.

Whatever our station in life is, whatever our differences are, it is against our dignity to call each other nasty, offensive and derogatory names, just because we disagree with them, or dislike them, or are angry with them.

Holy Scripture warns us:

"Whoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment, and whoever shall say to his brother "Raca" [foolish] shall be in danger of the council, and whoever says to his brother "thou fool" shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:22)

"Guard against foul talk; let your words be for the improvement of others, as occasion offers, and do good to your listeners, otherwise you will only be grieving the Holy Spirit of God who has marked you with his seal for you to be set free when the day comes. Never have grudges against others, or lose your temper, or raise your voice to anybody, or call each other names, or allow any sort of spitefulness. Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ." (Ephesians 4:29-32)

May we live in accordance with the dignity we have as beloved children of God. May we treat others with the same charity and respect as we wish for ourselves.#

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